Sanral questions legality of Outa's e-toll 'defence umbrella'

2016-09-11 21:21
Sanral staff wait outside their office in Midrand. (Jacaranda News via Twitter)

Sanral staff wait outside their office in Midrand. (Jacaranda News via Twitter)

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Cape Town - The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) has questioned the legality of Outa's recruitment drive for membership of its e-tolls "defence umbrella" and its fund-raising activities, in a statement on Sunday..

Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona said they had, "challenged Outa to clarify its standing in relation to insurance laws and its practice of collecting funds from the public". 

"This comes after SANRAL has questioned the cost of membership of Outa versus paying for e-tolls," the government agency said of the Organisation Against Tax Abuse's campaign.

"An extract taken directly from their website... is unambiguous when it comes to the true cost of opposing a system that has been declared lawful by Pretoria High Court, the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court,” said Mona.

He said that according to Outa's membership plan, a person who received summonses below R50 000, is required to make a once-off payment of R5 000. For amounts above R50 000, the payment is 10% for magistrate court matters and 5% for high court matters.

It costs R50 000 to join for matters over R1 million in the high court.

"Shockingly, there is still is a monthly fee payable. The lowest amount is R200 per month.  This against the reality that 78% users' monthly toll is more than R100 per month, and that the absolute maximum payable is R236 per month for light vehicles if you are registered."

Outa expected payment in excess of the actual monthly costs to fight the system, said Mona.

Crowdfunding

Outa spokesperson Wayne Duvenhage told News24 that people are so opposed to e-tolls that they would rather give their money to an organisation trying to get the system removed.

"It is not an insurance scheme. There are no fees, there are no guarantees. We put it out there," he said.

Outa had been opposed to e-tolls since 2012 and launched the "defence umbrella" last year.

"This is what you call crowdfunding for a collective. It is an effort by the public to fight a case."

He said Sanral was trying to push the public into fighting for themselves, and that would not be possible with the government's approach of running up costs through delays, which he called "lawfare through attrition".

At present lawyers are thrashing out the finer details of the test case. Whether it would be for one to three people or a larger group and whether photographs of people passing a gantry would be required were some of the questions being asked.

Duvenhage said the amounts on the website were suggested amounts. The average donation is R120, and the fund already has millions in its war chest.

The Outa website explains that being a member of the fund contributes to fighting maladministration and corruption. 

On Thursday it also posted a statement explaining that Sanral's lawyers had agreed to stay all legal claims against members of the public who either already are, or will in future become Outa members.

This is pending the completion of the test case process that started in June 2016 and could take two years to complete.

No contract

Sanral refused to stay prosecutions of those not in the test case pending the outcome of the test case. 

"There is no confusion here and if Vusi Mona denies this, he needs to get the facts from Werksmans who are representing them on this matter. The fact is that Sanral's legal team has agreed with Outa's lawyers to a test case process."

Duvenage said people joined Outa because they wanted to.

It is not the first time Duvenage has gone to the public for legal funds to get the tolling system in Gauteng stopped.

The fund offers several packages with suggested amounts - from a nuclear family to a company fleet - and is managed by Collective Dynamics, a company which says it optimises clients' annuities and premiums.

The explainer notes that monthly membership can be by debit order, and was not a contract.

Asked what guarantee members had that he would not run away with their money, he said Outa has a board, and is registered. 

"I can give you my word. There is no chance of that happening."







Read more on:    outa  |  sanral  |  wayne duvenhage

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